Saving children from HIV

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James McIntyre speaks Friday to delegates at the HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting about preventing HIV transmission from mother to child.

James McIntyre speaks Friday to delegates at the HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting about preventing HIV transmission from mother to child.

Every day, 1,500 babies around the world are born with HIV.

The United States averages less than one HIV-positive baby per day.

Europe the same.

Africa averages 1,400 daily.

Every year, fewer than 7,000 HIV-positive women in the United States give birth.

Every year, 9,000 HIV-positive women in the Soweto township in South Africa give birth.

The US population: roughly 310 million

Soweto’s: 10 million.

These figures were presented today by James McIntyre, Executive Director of the Perinatal HIV Research Unit of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, during the plenary session.

McIntyre called the system of preventing HIV transmission from mother to child (PMTCT) an “astounding success’’ in developed countries and a handful of developing countries. But he said it was still a failure overall in the developing world, citing one survey that showed 93 of the 100 developing countries using PMTCT failed to achieve coverage above 40 percent.

Overall, in the developing world, just 33 percent of HIV-positive women giving birth access PMTCT services – while a huge jump from just a few years ago, still called an outrage by many..

McIntyre said more could be done in several areas, including making sure that HIV-negative woman do not become infected while they are pregnant or soon after birth.

He also said much more needs to be done to include men in PMTCT services.

“We’ve never appealed to men – we’ve never seen men as responsible. We say men behave badly and we treat them that way,’’ he said. “I think those working in prevention in Africa gave up on men way too long again.’’

He noted men have two prevention tools: condoms and circumcision.

Females? “The only female control we have is men,’’ he said, drawing laughter. “We need  to get men  involved in PMTCT services. Maybe what we need is ANC (antenatal care) classes for woman and male circumcision clinics for men done at the same time.  We need something.’’

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